Cruel And Unusual Punishment

Angel Raich is living a pretty sad life. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor that keeps her in constant pain, and the only medicine that helps alleviate that pain is illegal. She’s a medical marijuana user.

Two years ago, she was involved in a case that went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court ruled that she and persons like her could be prosecuted for violating federal drug laws despite the fact that medicinal use of marijuana was legal in California, her home state.

Now, she’s been handed another setback by the Courts:

SAN FRANCISCO, California (AP) — A California woman whose doctor says marijuana is the only medicine keeping her alive is not immune from federal prosecution on drug charges, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

The case was brought by Angel Raich, an Oakland mother of two who suffers from scoliosis, a brain tumor, chronic nausea, and other ailments. On her doctor’s advice, she eats or smokes marijuana every couple of hours to ease her pain and bolster a nonexistent appetite as conventional drugs did not work. Whilst she has been told that marijuana will help ease the pain from her brain tumor, it might not be able to ease the symptoms of her scoliosis. If she’s finding that her scoliosis is painful, she might be better to look at other treatment options, such as visiting a scoliosis institute to hopefully relieve her spinal problem. Whilst marijuana may be helping to ease her scoliosis currently, it might be better for her to seek direct relief from a spinal doctor. To ease her other illnesses, marijuana seems to be working well. If you don’t know much about marijuana products, it may be useful to read a marijuana glossary before buying any sort of marijuana-based product. Especially given the number of different ways that marijuana can be taken nowadays. As well as smoking it, you can vape it, use it in the form of oils and salves, or eat it in the form of baked goods or chocolate, like these shatter bars. There are more and more marijuana products appearing on the market, so it’s good to be informed about what’s out there.

The Supreme Court ruled against Raich two years ago, saying that medical marijuana users and their suppliers could be prosecuted for breaching federal drug laws even if they lived in a state such as California where medical pot is legal.

Because of that ruling, the issue before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was narrowed to the so-called right to life theory: that marijuana should be allowed if it is the only viable option to keep a patient alive.

Raich, 41, began sobbing when she was told of the decision and said she would continue using the drug.

“I’m sure not going to let them kill me,” she said. “Oh my God.”

And, so, after a two year trek through the legal system we are left with this: a woman dying from a brain tumor could conceivably go to a Federal Prison for smoking pot. If there is a stupider, more cruel, example of the damage the War On (Some) Drugs does to real people, I’d like to see it.

  • Birdie

    Wow. That one not only defies common sense, it very nearly defies credulity!

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  • Brad Warbiany


    Hang around here a while. You’ll hear far more stories about government incompetence and malfeasance.

    It’s gotten to the point where I don’t bat an eye when I hear about stuff like this. In fact, when government is involved, I expect it. Which is incredibly sad, don’t you think?

  • T F Stern

    Closer to home…I’ve been taking Vicodin or its generic equivalent for upwards of thirty years to alleviate pain in my back. I can only take it in the evening or weekends when I know I won’t leave the house because it can cause slower reactions, not a good thing if you are driving. It is the only drug that has made a dent in the pain caused by having an extra vertebrae in my lower back, a curvature of the spine, degenerative disc disease and top that off with arthritis; other than that I have a perfectly healthy back.

    Each year I get a prescription for 60 caplets which I cannot have refilled without a second prescription. I have yet to have that refilled in any one year. Last year when I mentioned to my regular family doctor, an HMO bean counter pretending to be a doctor, he mentioned that he was concerned that I might becoming addicted to the pain medicine and suggested that I might be taking advantage of his past willingness to prescribe a controlled substance when some over the counter pill such as Tylenol might do just as well. (You might be pleased that I didn’t shoot him on the spot, having my concealed handgun permit and being of a mind to relieve the world of one useless medical doctor)

    I did the math for him; 60 caplets for 365 days in the year, the prescription calling for one or two caplets as needed for pain. Some times I can go months without the need for a pain pill while other times I’ll have several days in a row where I can hardly move without severe pain, spasms and loss of motion which can only be abated with the use of high powered “controlled substance”.

    If I’m addicted, and that seems a catch 22, as long as I’m alive with this rotten back I’ll need something to shut off the pain, then I’ll be required to ask or beg my family doctor to fill out that mandatory form so I can continue purchasing Vicodin or its generic equivalent. Is my “addiction” the kind that makes me a threat to society; only if loud groans at two in the morning wake the next door neighbors when my back jolts me out of a not so sound sleep.

    Sign the damn prescription and I’ll pretend to ignore the ignorance exhibited by a bean counter pretending to be a doctor, pretending that he knows the difference between drug abuse and improving the quality of life for a patient with a chronic disorder.

  • VRB

    I think the FED’s are putting pressure on doctors in private practice and dentists. When I needed a root canal and it couldn’t be scheduled for a week, I could not get pain killer which would actually kill the pain. So, I suffered for a week. This had never been a problem a few years earlier.
    I remember an emergency room doctor telling me that Tylenol is not a pain killer.